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Aziz and I published an article in +972 Magazine.  You can read the full article by clicking here, but here is the extract below.

There are two main camps involved in negotiating a ceasefire agreement between Hamas and Israel. However, the players are not within the camp that most would have expected. What started as Israel vs. Hamas is quickly becoming a geopolitical issue involving many new actors. While this might seem good for some, it should be seen as terrible news for Palestinians and Israelis alike.

Today this same is happening in Gaza. ISIL, the Islamic State of Iraq and Levant, is already reported to have a presence in Gaza and is likely to try to take power from Hamas. While all the other regional powers are arguing about which “proposal” for a ceasefire should be accepted, more than 1,040 Palestinians have been killed and 6,000 injured, with 44 Israelis killed as well. If this conflict continues with the same intensity for 12 months, there will be 24,000 Palestinian killed with 72,000 injured. Gaza today lies in ruins, and more than 170,000 have been made homeless. It will take years to rebuild what was destroyed in two weeks.

Hopefully, a ceasefire will be finalized soon and the regional powers will stop playing with Palestinian lives for their own political self-interests. But let’s remember that the ceasefire will not end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Perhaps the main problem with the ceasefire negotiations is that they ignore the underlying issues. While a ceasefire will allow Israelis to slip back into normal lives, it will keep Palestinians under occupation both in Gaza and the West Bank.

Gaza Becomes Syria: Middle East Geopolitics 2.0

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Zionism

by mgopin on July 28, 2014 · 0 comments

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Antizionism is not antisemitism, for the simple reason that tens of thousands of identified Jews, secular or religious, are avowed antizionists. At the same time, antizionism has not done a goddam thing for the grievances of millions of Palestinians against millions of Zionists who run a successful country and who are going nowhere. 
I am sick and tired of “anti” philosophies while children are dying needlessly. Someone tell me how to save the children of the whole Middle East, and keep the “anti’s” out of the conversation.

jerusalem-panorama-500

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Note from the War Front to Fellow Jews

by mgopin on July 24, 2014 · 0 comments

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The relationships between loving Jews and Arabs, even in Gaza right this moment, is plainly evident. I get reports every day. But it is hard to imagine for those who carry suspicion and fear and loathing of one side. But let’s talk about the strategic and moral and rational necessity of empathy. Hamas is their only defense right now. Hamas is not seen as the oppressor thanks to the twelve year siege and the constant wars. They WOULD be seen as such if anyone had a chance to live a normal life in Gaza. Would you have seen the Stern Gang as an oppressor in 1945, with both the British and the Nazis bearing down on you and the Mufti siding with the Nazis, even if you hated their philosophy of violence against civilians? You don’t have to approve of Hamas, you can consider them criminals, they are.  But you must have empathy to offer a modicum of sanity in this conflict if you want to understand why everyone is doing what they are doing, and feel compelled to do so.

Darkness Cannot Drive Out Darkness- MLK (Martin Luther King Jr.)

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Mother/Father in a Time of War

by mgopin on July 23, 2014 · 0 comments

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Fear pervades, 
Terror strikes the land, 
We need our mother/fathers. 
Earth is been struck by a few Father/Mothers of Death, 
Marching their Children into murder/suicide.
So we become Father/Mothers of Life, 
We become Hava, 
Em Kol Chai, Mother of all of Life. 
The Secret of Creation is not an original Mother/Father of all Humans,
though that too science claims.
The Secret is that only Mother/Fathers of every human,
Save as all humans from each other.

 

mother-father-son(Photo source: Nutrition and Beyond)

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Reflections in My Middle Eastern Mirror

by mgopin on July 22, 2014 · 0 comments

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Compassion fatigue.
Strange expression.
What is the fatigue?
Too much suffering, 
Too many people crying,
Too many dead bodies, 
Too many people 
Demanding that I love them,
But only them,
That I see only their tears,
As they fall upon the bloodied bodies
That once laughed
and danced
and cheered.
Ask me for compassion
And I will refuse.
Ask me who are you?
Ask a peacemaker,
Who
the
fuck
are
you?
Look at that goddam mirror,
Do you know any more?
Or does everything bleed red,
In the cracked mirror,
Which you broke,
In a fit of rage?
[click to continue…]

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ENEMIES

When you stay with a family that thrives on hatred of everyone else, 99.9% of humanity fears you, and certainly dislikes you. When you grow into your original family of humanity, your enemies are only a small percent of your old family that thrived on fear and hatred of the rest. 

LOVE

If you want the joy of loving humanity, you must endure the sorrow of losing many loved ones. The more you love, the more you lose. If you are not prepared, bitterness will swallow you.

If you prepare yourself for loss, then the light of love will endure and even conquer the darkness dividing you from enemies, when the men with guns slink into the shadows exhausted and defeated.

CALCULATIONS

Miscalculations cause much human violence. Each side thinks its escalation of inflicted pain will cause the other to back down, and then it does the opposite. If miscalculation causes war, then we must become experts at calculation.

Calculate costs versus benefits, calculate likely next steps, calculate future from past, calculate the wages of love versus hate, calculate the wages of compassion versus callousness.

 

Darkness Cannot Drive Out Darkness- MLK Martin Luther King Jr.

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Victims will always want their story told no matter how bloody. no
matter how gory, no matter how outrageous. Perpetrators will always want to
ignore the very same thing.

Victims will always be outraged by crimes committed, whereas
perpetrators or their relatives will always be outraged by the report
of crimes. For one died at the hand of the crimes, whereas the other
died at the hand of the report. One lost their bodies, and one lost their souls.

Marc Gopin

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There are important next steps being debated for what states can and should do to stop the current war, and set the stage for ending the current cycle of violence. That is not my subject. I thought recently that leaders are followers and followers are leaders, and neither knows it. The fact is that people and their individual initiatives have much more impact on the course of history than is acknowledged by government officials, by cynics, and by those too apathetic, too callous, or too fearful to act. If you are in that category, do not read forward. Just go back to Al Jazeera, Fox and CNN and choose a side. Or go back to Jon Stewart and have a good laugh.

Here is what is necessary, efforts that have worked before in history in changing the available information available to all parties so that more rational and more morally decent decisions can be made in terms of limiting violence, eliminating violence, and moving toward fair and rational common ground. There are a series of efforts that have worked in other conflicts in the world to mitigate and eventually eliminate violent conflict.

 

If you are a party to the conflict:

1. Reach out to anyone who is from an ‘enemy’ group that you think is most likely receptive to being a bridge and communicator. Interview them. Ask them questions about themselves or their lives especially in the current situation. This can be done online and virtually, and in fact there are many good places to do this.

Take the relationship and conversation off public line, however.

Ask if they would do the same in terms of interviewing you on what is happening in your family and community. Faithfully find ways to convey the information to friends and colleagues, off or online who would be open to hearing such information.

If you are a writer, try to get this into the public domain of twitter, FB, blogs, in any way you can. Do not write or convey anything one person says as gospel truth, but as one piece of the puzzle.

Be prepared as you pass on information to others to be attacked especially if you convey information that involves pain to one side or another, or things that do not confirm stereotypes.

2. Encourage and engage in any forms of direct address to people from the other side with positive expressions of sympathy, understanding or care.

If you are a bystander:

Do the same as above, except do it with people on both sides, and see if you can convey information between one or more people on both sides who are capable of listening.

Be an adjunct and assistant to efforts of #1.

History suggests that such messaging and gestures cause a great deal of cognitive and emotional dissonance to violent enemy systems and discourages violent responses. Anything that humanizes the other tends to discourage violent responses and solutions, and makes the space for other solutions to emerge or at least be supported.

Keep in mind these are short term approaches, but they could give rise to long term brainstorming and new ideas.

Keep in mind that ultra-violence’s only opportunity is that it drives others to ultra-peace shifts in thinking and behavior. This is an opportunity to be seized.

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Reflections on Disunion and Union

by mgopin on July 16, 2014 · 0 comments

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holdinghands

It is hard to over estimate who is bleeding more in all the people that you meet. The walking wounded are everywhere. Like zombies. That puts conflict management and mitigation in a whole different light. 

There is no battle in the war on prejudice. The battlefront is us. Expect everyone, including yourself, to be prejudiced and then be pleasantly surprised.

We are all hopelessly divided especially, in the strange brain patterns that we call ideologies. But it is equally true that love conquers all, even the most bizarre differences among us. We have all witnessed that this is possible.

Two people claim the same house. They build a vision of a world without the other. Then they meet. Then they look into each other’s eyes and fall in love, just then. Then they proceed to pray for peace together. The insane beauty of the human capacity for sympathy, compassion, and solidarity. (True story of Jewish and and Islamist devotees of Mt Moriah/Haram al Sharif.)

 

(Photo sourse: Calipsoaranda)

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A Tale of HL

by mgopin on July 15, 2014 · 0 comments

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jerusalem-panorama-500

Once upon a time the known world of E was divided up between nasty C’s and nastier F’s who learned from each other how to destroy the poor M’s. The poor M’s hid in every shadow they could find. Then one day, many decades later, the M’s got tired of the shadows, and even more tired of the F’s and C’s, and so they made a big home for themselves to which the F’s and the C’s were not terribly welcome. The C’s disappeared into thin air. Some became F’s, and many just disappeared. But the F’s retreated to the shadows, and then spread their wings like bats and flew in the night across the world to another world called the HL. And there they nested for decades, until they one day grew and grew, and then grew so large that they divided the HL among themselves between IF’s and AF’s. And once again the M’s of HL retreated to the shadows, terribly afraid of the nasty IF’s and AF’s. And there the M’s remain, not sure how to create a home for themselves to which the IF’s and AF’s will not be terribly welcome.

(E=Europe, F=fascist, HL= Holy Land)

 

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